There are three different ways to approach your fantasy draft this year. What type of owner are you?
This owner believes in preparing less than one week prior to the draft or even the day of the draft. This is fine if you have one of the following:
– A guaranteed lucky rabbit’s foot.
– Disposable income with little chance of return on investment.
This owner might as well enjoy the draft party, because it is generally downhill from there without a great deal of luck.
This owner may already be working on their third revision of their draft cheat sheet. There may not be a lot of tips here for this owner.
This owner is the draft warrior and generally finishes near the top of their league standings year after year.
This owner represents all of the rest, who usually wind up in the middle of the pack with a good finish sprinkled in every so often.
Here are some tips from a 20-plus year (I’ve lost track) fantasy football veteran, who might help you have a more successful draft this year and for years to come.
Caveat: Any player projections you see on almost any website are going to be based on what is considered a standard league with basic scoring, unless otherwise stated. Applying this information to leagues with multiple quarterbacks, penalties for poor performance, bonuses for superior performance, defensive scoring that counts cups of Gatorade consumed, etc., would need to be adjusted accordingly.
1. If you haven’t started your own draft cheat sheet by now, you need to do so. Go to a reliable website, like FantasySharks.com and copy their current cheat sheet for each position into some type of spreadsheet, like Excel. You can then manipulate that one sheet for the remainder of the summer.
2. Over the next couple of months, read as much information as you can from large national fantasy websites. Identify injuries that will linger into the season, suspensions, undecided position battles, etc. and make a note to recheck their status just prior to your draft.
3. Depth charts are a good source of information, but these may vary from site to site. Look at depth charts to identify significant position battles, backups for stud running backs that you can handcuff, No. 2 and even No. 3 wide receivers on high-powered offenses and even No. 1 wide receivers on teams that are not as high-powered. Most of these players can be selected at the back of your draft.
4. Take guest writer information and information from obscure fantasy sites with a grain of salt. Funny, huh? What I mean is, beware of information that is possibly slanted toward specific teams or players. While there are many guest writers and up-and-coming sites that have good information, some other questionable characters are bound to slip through the cracks (see byline above).
5. Pay particular attention to the second-to-last preseason game. Most of the starting lineup for this game will be starting in Week 1, barring injury. The backups will be the next players in, etc. The last preseason game generally focuses on players trying to make the final roster and many Week 1 starters are rested or only get a few “tune up” snaps.
6. Participate in mock drafts if you are drafting online. Get familiar with the flow of the site and identify which players the site is showing as next best player available. These are the players that the unprepared owner will probably be focusing on most, allowing you to wait on your hidden gems that are located far down the list.
7. Update your cheat sheet within 24-48 hours of your draft. Use local sources to verify depth chart discrepancies and possible sleepers. These include team websites and local beat writer blogs/reports. You can move players up and down your cheat sheet based on the national websites, but confirm these moves with the local information if possible. National information tends to spotlight the stars, while many seasons are won and lost with players selected in the second half of fantasy drafts.
8. Show up to the draft with a pen and one sheet of paper (cheat sheet) on a clipboard. You’ve put all of your time and research into this one sheet. Believe in it! Use it! Don’t get distracted by needless information. Then, sit back and enjoy, secure in the knowledge that you are prepared for every pick, while the other guys are scrambling through stacks of information by Rounds 4 or 5. In the end, you’ll have a solid draft and plenty of time to enjoy your draft beverage.